How the Boston Red Sox Teach Us How to Fix the Economy

After a miraculous championship run in 2004 to win their first world series in 86 years and another incredible run in 2007, the Boston Red Sox extinguished all future heartbreak seasons for Red Sox Nation. Or so we were led to believe—but the Fenway Faithful knew better. The 2012 season started with some hope, but just like any other Red Sox season before the turn of the century, it’s about to end with a lot of disgust and depression due to a lack of investment in the future of the team. The uncertain future of the Red Sox mirrors our current financial woes. This election season, we would do well to learn the lessons that the baseball team is currently struggling to learn.

John Henry, principal owner of the Red Sox since 2002, is a numbers guy. However, like many other things, baseball only works off of business models some of the time. Henry’s businesslike approach was magical in ’04 and ’07, but the past five years have made Boston look like the new Florida: a retirement home for old stars who have just a few years left in their arms and legs to compete in the majors. This disregard for the future of the team is going to evaporate any hope we had in the Red Sox for the next decade. In fact, we’re already seeing the repercussions.

The Red Sox are currently 60-66, second from last in the AL East. Some blame previous general manager Epstein’s managerial tactics; others blame the newly hired manager Bobby Valentine for his inability to create a healthy attitude in the dugout. I blame Henry’s negligence in investing in the Sox farm system and young stars across the league. In this regard, the Red Sox woes resemble our current economic crisis.

We’re about to face another recession in 2013, which Business Insider calls the “fiscal cliff nightmare scenario.” With 2001 and 2003 tax cuts set to expire—which will lead to increased tax rates—coupled with government spending cuts to defense spending and unemployment benefits, revenues will be less than $5 trillion less between 2012 and 2012.

This is not a pleasant situation at a time when millions of baby boomers are on the verge of retirement as we exit the second of two costly, 13-year wars.  In a political environment fueled by bitterness and polarization, no party seems to want to face these challenges. (With the exception of drastic, revertive approaches to the deficit that are nothing but retrogressive, like vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plan.)

Boehner and his clan have made a valiant effort to make the Democrats look useless going into November, stomping on anything and everything that would enhance the President’s appeal. The Obama administration seeks to do only menial things before the election, like influencing gas prices for strategic periods of time, cautiously analyzing each decision’s effect on the polls. The deficit’s shadow keeps getting larger and larger, and year after year, we persist in putting it off.

Enough is enough. It's time for millennials to realize what’s in store for us in the years to come and rise up. Social issues will inevitably headline this presidential race sometime or another, but they shouldn’t dominate the election. The economy should be of utmost importance.

Social issues such as women’s right to self-govern their bodies and equality in marriage are so important in the effort to move our country forward, but I would gently compare them to the inevitable demise of Fenway Park. There’s no question that those who oppose gay marriage in this country will be forced to realize there’s no point in fighting homosexuals have the right to be together. There’s no point in fighting the fact Fenway will eventually have to be demolished and rebuilt, either — it’s just a matter of time.

To some, these social issues can’t wait — but I would say fixing the economy has already run out of time. It’s only getting worse, even if it may not seem like it.

Obama must address his weaknesses in the economic front, and find a way, however unpopular, to take a stance for the future. If Romney’s economic plan is going to mirror Ryan’s previous work on the budget, deficit, and Medicare, he better be ready to explain how folks on government benefits will be able to live without any sort of reasonable income. Investment via cuts in government spending is essential, but taking a time machine back to the 1950s isn’t a smart thing to do either, unless the plan accommodates 21st century world economic standards.

The Red Sox and the United States need financial flexibility for years to come, and that means making some bold moves to get there. On Friday night, the Red Sox were rumored to be trading their top three money-makers — Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett — in order to make room for some young talent. The trade went through Saturday afternoon, saving the Red Sox $25 million.

Instead of just looking towards tomorrow or next year, Henry has finally made a move for the future — something the United States needs to learn to do. An important election is ahead of us this fall, but all I can say is it’s a good thing football season is right around the corner. Go Pats.

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Logan Nee

Logan wrote for Mic from October 2011 to February 2014. He is now living in New York City. [logan.nee@gmail.com]

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